Monday, 10 August 2015

Begum Hazrat Mahal - Great Woman Warrior who rebelled agaist the British

Begum Hazrat Mahal. parishi26.blogspot.com
During the Indian freedom struggle against the British in the 18th and 19th centuries, a galaxy of daring women gave up their so called weaker-gender persona, took to arms and revolted against the unjust foreigners with out any fear or trepidation, thus showing the male dominated ruling class that if occasion  demanded they could prove that they were a formidable force to reckon with and their fighting spirits were no were inferior to men. Velu Nachiyar of Tamil Nadu, Jansi Rani of Gwalior, Begum Hazrat Mahal of Lucknow and others  made a niche for themselves in India's struggle for freedom and they are still being held in great esteem by the Indian people. Salutation to them and other  unknown patriotic female warriors who died unsung during the freedom struggle.

Begum Hazrat Mahal (1820 – 7 April 1879), alias Begum of Awadh, was forced to rebel against the dishonest  East India company and its  corrupt officials  when her husband  Nawab Wajid Ali Shah had been exiled to Calcutta (Kolkata). She  was one of the daring rebels during the  major Indian rebellion called the Great Mutiny or the Sepoy Revolt against the British rulers  who treated the Indians shabbily.  

Mahal's early name was Muhammadi Khanum and her birth place was Faizabad, Awadh, India. Coming from a poor family of courtesan, after leaving her parents she ended up  becoming   a royal concubine of the King of Oudh. Being smart and intelligent, she won the heart of the ruler. Soon after the birth of her son Birjis Qadra, her name was changed to Hazrat Mahal and  she officially became a wife of the last Tajdaar-e-Awadh, Wajid Ali Shah.

Even though the Nawob of Awadh  had  been  a loyal alley of the British and gave them cooperation as much as he could, the British were ungrateful to him.  Glued their eyes on the  rich kingdom, in 1856 the British annexed Awadh under   Lieutenant General Sir James Outram. The reason being Awadh which was an independent kingdom had military cooperation with the British for a fee consideration plus concession of trade for the British. The British, foxy as they were,  encouraged this kind of military alliance with the Indian ruler  in order to make them run into debt In reality  the East India company, under the British with blessings from the Crown, was a sort of loan-shark company. Once you get into this trap, you will come out just like plain banana with skin fully pealed off.  At one  stage the ruler of Awadh was unable to pay the annual fees to the British company  because most of his tax collectors in his kingdom were corrupt. As the arrears due to the British went way up far beyond redemption, as a last resort they confiscated the lands. The Nawob of Awadh was without his knowledge caught in this mouse trap in 1856. Wiggling out this kind of British bear hug was a tough one; hence his exile (March 13, 1856) in Calcutta.

Begum Hazrat Mahal Park,Lucknow, UP, India.www.buzzintown.com
 During the absence of the ruler, Begum Hazrat Mahal, took control of the administration of Awadh as regent for her son Birgis Qadr, the legal heir. Since Outram was sympathetic to the ruling family, he was replaced by one C. Coverley Jackson, in Lucknow under whose direction the kingdom was tranferred to East India company. This way at many places the British bobs brought on themselves a lousy reputation that acted as a fonder for the ensuing Sepoy revolt of Delhi on May 11,1857.

Mahal's early name was Muhammadi Khanum and her birth place was Faizabad, Awadh, India. Coming from a family of courtesan, after leaving her parents she ended up  becoming   a royal concubine of the King of Oudh. Soon after the birth of her son Birjis Qadra, her name was changed to Hazrat Mahal and  she officially became a wife of the last Tajdaar-e-Awadh, Wajid Ali Shah.

From he fast spread of the Indian rebellion of 1857-1858 like summer bush fire  and the active participation of many rulers or their family members  in the revolt, one can give get a  kaleidoscopic view of how much the Indian natives hated the British and to what extend the foreigners  made the tolerable, easy-going Indians despise them. When Hazrat Mahal took the sword against the British  as a regent of her son, defending Awadh,  she got ample support from Raja Jailal Singh. However, the British seized control of Lucknow. Subsequently in association Nana Shaheb, a great Maratha warrior and others she continued to fight against the British forces ' She also joined hands with  the Maulavi of Faizabad in the attack on Shahjahanpur.

During that time in some parts, the British in the name of progress and  using other excuses, pulled down mosques and temples to lay roads not for common use but to transport military, etc for their convenience. Further, the indirectly supported the spread of Christianity.  When Hazrat Mahal came to know about it, she was highly critical of their being secular and non interference in religious matter.

Having found her place unsafe and  after long deliberation, she was given asylum by the Nepal ruler prime minister Jang Bahadur. She died in Nepal  after 20 year of exile in 1879. She was the only leader never surrendered to the British and continuously was critical of the East India company and the Crown till her last days.  She was laid to rest in   Juma Masjid in Kathmandu. There is a Memorial of  Begum  Hazrat Mahal in Begum Hazrat Mahal Park, Lucknow. The Government of India  on 10 May 1984, issued a commemorative stamp in honor of Mahal. 15,00,000 stamps were issued.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begum_Hazrat_Mahal

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